Just got off this cruise on Sunday. In Nassau we went to the Atlantis. We've been to Nassau many times and had never done this but this time we had our kids with us so we went and were not disappointed. A lot of walking though (on our own about 90 minutes)and it was very HOT!
We took a cab on our own and walked the Atlantis on our own( you can also do their guided tour for the same cost). Cab was 4.00 pp each way (10 minute ride) and the Atlantis was 29.00 pp. Huge savings over the ship excursion for us. We waited for the excursions to get out of the way, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast aboard ship then left! Very easy. I don't know how they keep people from using the facilities though. If we'd had our swimsuits on we would have tried to use it all. We always thought that everything was behind some sort of locked area but it's not, you walk all around the pools and everything. Their beach would have been nice to sit on too. I say wear your swimsuit if you go and be brave - all they can do is say go away. The wristband they give you makes you stick out like a sore thumb so they know you aren't supposed to be there.
In St. Thomas we did the Turtle Cove (Doubloon/Dancing Dolphin) excursion. I'd read on line that this was fun but since weather conditions can vary quite a bit we wanted to be safe as to getting back to the ship in time. We have always done our excursions in the AM before but this time we were stuck with the afternoon and we've decided that it is much more enjoyable to do it in the afternoon. Much more relaxing. The Doubloon(pirate ship) & Dancing Dolphin (catamaran)take you to Turtle Cove for 1 hour of snorkeling.
This trip takes you to Turtle Cove which is part of BucK Island. Do not be fooled by the way the excursions are writen up - they all go to the same place pretty much. Captain Nautica was there, Seablaster, BOB, etc. You all are going to the same place even though they write it up as "you will go to an excluded island..." they make it sound as if you are going to be all alone in a secret special place while you snorkel - but you are not. When you get to your destination you will see about 15 - 30 boats with 100-300 people in the water. It did not seem overcrowded though and it was a fabulous trip where we got to see a lot of turtles and beautiful fish. The crew were terrific. Great fun!
We were on the Doubloon which is the pirate style sailing vessel. Off the ship you will wait for the excursion and they will put you in two groups. One group gets on the catamaran Dancing Dolphin, the other the Doubloon (pirate). I had been on a catamaran before and wanted to be on the Doubloon. Let the tour operator know which one you would prefer because they were able to change people to a different boat. Two different vessels = two different feels in the water. My family members are thrill ride junkies and yet they were hurling off the back of the boat under full sail on our return trip. So if you are not good with motion - you should not go on an excursion that "sails". Fair warning especially since you are pregnant
But most people were fine. I think much more had to do with it than just motion -fluid intake, heat, sun, salt water swallowing ,excitement,etc. Worth doing - it was amazing.
St. Maarten - we didn't know what we wanted to do here at all except lay on a beach. From the ship the beach looks like it is much farther but it's an easy (but hot!) 20 minute walk. Next time we'll use the water taxi though.
We ended up taking a taxi tour on our own not through the ship. We went to the tourist info center right where the ship docked. We took the City Tour. They have a map with different routes shown with the taxi fares along those routes. You simply pick from the menu, save money by not booking through the cruise line, and have a great time. It cost us 20.00 pp.
The tour took us to an overlook above Divi Little Bay Beach Resort so we could take pictures. Simpson Bay for an overlook again then on to the French capital of Marigot for 45 minutes of shopping. Then on through the interior of the island to French Cul de Sac and stopping for 30 minutes at Orient Beach. Orient Beach is absolutely gorgeous and worth the trip alone! After Orient we headed back to Philipsburg where we got dropped off (driver would have returned us to ship if we wanted) so we could do some shopping.
In the city areas the driving is very congested and frequently stopped. We're glad that we left later than the shore excursions because otherwise we would not have enjoyed ourselves sitting in traffic all the time. St. Maarten scenery is very beautiful and we're glad we chose to do this because it only took 2-3 hours and we had a lot more time to do other things as well. I really don't think you can go wrong with any excursion on St. Maarten. Next time we will just take a taxi and go to the beach of our choice. The island is very small and easy to get around, and the people there are very nice and polite to one another, such a departure from Nassau.